Show Review: Gemini Cricket, Hot Hands, and Tuffy at Club TSI July 10, 2009

by Jack Diablo
If there is one thing you can count on on a Friday night, it’s that there will probably be a few really good bands playing at Club TSI. And the best part about it is you can stick around and dance the night away afterward with DJ Nick Fresh. The most recent Friday night show featured two out of town bands, Hot Hands and Gemini Cricket, along with Tuffy from right here in Jacksonville.
Hot Hands are a boy/girl two-piece out of Orlando. Coming across as a rowdier Jack and Meg White, they pump out dirty garage rock. I love it when girls are able to beat the crap out of a perfectly innocent drum set and Kristin certainly did that. However, between abusing those drumheads and shouting along, the beat had a tendency to drag. But instead of sounding unprofessional it really just made it that much more garage and authentic. Living so close, here’s hoping they make Jacksonville a frequent stop in the future.
Tuffy is “one of those bands,” as some friends of mine would say. They play fairly regularly but rarely, if ever, travel out of town. They have no merchandise to speak of, or if they do it stays holed away in someone’s closet or trunk. But they are incredible. With 3 guitars, bass, drums and cello, their sound is nothing if not full. Between the gang vocals and all the strings doing their own thing, Tuffy has more layers than a vegetarian lasagna. The guitars take dissonant strolls in their own directions while the cello adds that little touch of drama. They do classic indie rock a la early Modest Mouse but with the swagger of Tim Kasher. Somehow they manage to revel in the chaotic disorganization between songs and make missed notes and forgotten lyrics sound intentional. Just when you think the whole set is going to fall apart, they all come in out of nowhere and perfectly execute whatever song is next. It’s really quite a sight. After watching a Tuffy show, it becomes clear that the band’s reluctance to market themselves is not a testament to their ennui, but proof that they just love to play music together.
Closing out the night was Gemini Cricket. This Athens, GA trio serves up surfy garage rock with jangly guitars and sloppy drums. What stuck out most about their show was the sense of joy they exuded just by being on stage. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the set was a lot of fun. If I had to peg them down, I would ask you to consider a more wholesome version of Black Lips. Vocally, there is a hint of Rogue Wave in Blake’s singing. I could have sworn I heard just a touch of The Walkmen as well. The music wanders from space-surf to traditional psyche-pop, but always maintains that echoey garage fuzz. The best part though is the way the absolutely adorable Sara manhandles the bass guitar and takes the lead on ‘Tango Alpha Bravo Bravo.’
Above all else, the diversity in the bands that appear at TSI is refreshing and almost always guaranteed fun. It just goes to show you that they can successfully juggle being a discotheque and a live music venue with grace.